Focus on Marketing at Third Annual Dealers Forum

September 18, 2012
Meetings & Events

Las Vegas–Building good word-of-mouth, managing an online presence, selling to men and women and a long list of lead generation tips were the hot topics at the third annual Window & Door Dealers Forum, held in conjunction with GlassBuild America last week. Hosted by the Window & Door Dealer Alliance, the event enjoyed record attendance, with more than 110 dealers, manufacturers and industry suppliers on hand for the gathering.

 
 Word-of-mouth marketing means "gving customers a reason to talk about you" and "giving them the opportunity to do it," said Brian Bunt, speaking at the WDDA forum. 

"The best sales people are your core customers," said Brian Bunt, director of EmptyBin.com in his lead-off session on word-of-mouth marketing.  With a background at WindsorOne, a producer of wood mouldings, he highlighted some of that company's efforts in the word-of-mouth arena, including free T-shirts and more. "We didn't have much of a choice," he noted, discussing WindsorOne's initial foray into word-of-mouth in the middle of the housing recession. "We didn't have a marketing budget." 

WindsorOne's first efforts involved printing "Call Kurt for a Shirt" on the back of its mouldings. Targeted at yard workers in building supply and lumber dealers, the low-cost initiative generated a significant response and goodwill for the company. 

Bunt began his session by noting that word-of-mouth does not mean social media.  Social media is a tool, but word-of-mouth primarily means "gving customers a reason to talk about you" and "giving them the opportunity to do it." 

Before taking attendees through a workshop to develop their own inititiative, Bunt offered four rules for developing good word-of-mouth: Be interesting, make people happy, earn trust and respect and finally, make it easy for customers to talk about a company. "There are three reasons people talk about you," he stated.  "They like you and your stuff, talking makes them feel good, and they like to feel connected to a group."

Other Speakers
Frank Reed, an internet consultant and author of the Marketing Pilgrim blog, reviewed a number of steps dealers can take to build their online presence.  He also advised those that don't rely on the internet to establish a presence.  Pointing to the site knowem.com, he said it is important get online and protect a company's brand.  He also advised using Google's Chrome browser in "Incognito" mode to monitor what is being said about a company online.

Men tend to focus more on facts during the sales process, while women "notice everything," said Colette Carlson, a marketing consultant and president of SpeakYourTruth.com, who followed with a discussion on the need for differing approachs in marketing to men and women. She outlined the growing influence women have in building product purchases, and emphasized that dealers first need to know that "women want to be taken seriously as customers." 

The final speaker of the day was Gail Brown of LeadBuilders, a consultant on lead generation for home improvement dealers.  She started by showing a marketing calendar, emphasizing that for dealers, "failing to plan is planning to fail."  She then went through the calendar, discussing how different initiatives can be used throughout the year, ranging from home shows, to canvassing to mining past customer lists can be used to generate leads.

The dealer forum smaller breakout sessions, enabling attendees to ask questions and learn from peers in a less formal basis. Rich Walker, president and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, led one group on a review focused on understanding the latest code and regulatory issues. Richard Voreis of the Consulting Collaborative moderated a group discussion focused on management and maximizing profit. Carlton van Putten of ContactPoint offered a session on marketing and a fourth group, led by attorney Paul Gary of the Gary Law Group, discussed emerging liability issues in the window and door arena.

Change of Leadership
Members of the WDDA advisory board used the event to say farewell to David Walker, a VP with the National Glass Association who has played a lead role in supporting the formation of the new dealer group since its founding three years ago.  Effective October 1,  Walker is moving on to serve as president and CEO of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, an organization that serves veterans around the counrty.  Walker has served on that coalition’s national board of directors for the past few years, and when its CEO recently departed, he was asked to take the new position.

WDDA advisory board member David Steele presented Walker with a proclamation at the meeting. He was recognized for his work in creating WDDA and encouraging more companies to join, his efforts to ensure that WDDA and its concerns about lead paint rules were heard by regulators in Washington, and finally his commitment to develop programs and educational efforts focused on best practices at the dealer level.

Attendees were also introduced to Jim Gandorf, who is joining NGA and WDDA as the new VP for association services. His background in trade organizations include the American Board of Opticianry, the Association for Education & Rehabilitation of the Blind and the American Trucking Associations.

 Attendance at the WDDA forum topped 100 for the first time in Las Vegas.